As the skills gap grows and employers seek skilled workers, microcredentials offer a path to education and workforce growth

Where can microcredentials take higher education?


As the skills gap grows and employers seek skilled workers, microcredentials offer a path to education and workforce growth

Editor’s note: eCampus News is exploring the future and potential of microcredentials in a multi-story series. Check back each week for fresh perspectives from educators and industry experts.

The COVID-19 pandemic ushered forth dramatic declines in college and university enrollments, widespread unemployment, and it cast a spotlight on the skills gap and the increased demand for upskilling and reskilling in today’s workforce.

As more and more surveys reveal that employers are struggling to find workers who are highly-qualified and prepared for a global and always-evolving workforce, microcredentialing initiatives are becoming increasingly widespread.

Unlike academic degree programs, microcredentials are bite-sized educational courses with a more specific focus. They could take months or weeks to complete.
Because of their convenience, microcredentials appeal to employees looking for a highly personalized, flexible, and cost-effective way to further their education.

As automation and technological advances change the job market, policymakers and employers recognize the potential of microcredentialing and professional certifications to help meet demands for new skills.

Microcredentialing also reflects a growing mindset that educational opportunities must be available for working students. Students with professional and family obligations are becoming the norm at institutions, and efforts are growing to upskill employees and provide adult workers with additional opportunities to increase their educational attainment and potential for professional advancement and achievement.

More than half of respondents (56 percent) participating in a recent survey say they believe today’s employers are not adequately preparing workers with future-forward tech skills.

What’s more, traditionally underrepresented workers say they believe lifelong learning–including the learning opportunities afforded by microcredentialing–is key to competing for jobs on a level playing field.

Working Americans – and particularly those in underrepresented groups – place a high priority on job-related learning and lifelong learning to ensure their futures, according to a report from Bright Horizons.

Coming out of the pandemic, nearly half (45 percent) of American workers surveyed state that their education became even more important for their growth, with Black (55 percent) and Hispanic/Latino (54 percent) employees feeling this more strongly than white (41 percent) workers.

Beyond the benefits they can bring to the current workforce, microcredentials also have the potential to attract new, highly-qualified employees. A company culture that values continued learning, career development and advancement, and helps employees achieve greatness can be an appealing selling point in today’s fierce competition for talent.

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Laura Ascione

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